Een ander soort corona-moe deel II
The quarterly PanEssay issues are a familiar sight on the doormat of many medical students in Groningen. But what a PanEssay issue looks like in 2021 is very different from when its first issue was printed. After all, the PanEssay has been around for longer than most people that are reading the PanEssay today. With shifting times and changing writers, many features have come and gone – but certain elements have carried on through the passage of time.
On August 20th, 1987, the three student bodies of the medical faculty at the University of Groningen (S.M.S., Placebo, and M.S.F.G.) merged to form M.F.V. Panacea. Under this newly organized association, a magazine – the PanEssay – was created for its members. The quarterly editions shed light on the affairs of Panacea and the faculty, as well as various medical topics. As we approach the 25th anniversary of Panacea in 2022, the total number of editions published nears 100.
An Outline of the PanEssay
For first-year students, who are busy with the tedious task of deciphering Nestor and reading abstract maps, trying to figure out how PanEssay issues are structured may seem like another task. Add to this the fact that many titles are in Dutch, and you get a confused international student. As the current issue will be the first that new students will receive, the structure of each issue has been broken down below.
A PanEssay issue consists of a number of recurring columns and articles about a variety of topics. Leading every PanEssay edition is “Uit de hokken” (or “From the Lofts” in English): a section where the board of Panacea gives a short update on their activities in the past months, and the chair of the PanEssay gives you an idea of what to expect in the edition. The “Commissiepagina” (“Committee page”) is the second column you find, featuring short introductions from members of a few Panacea committees. If you’re wondering which of the 28 committees you would like to join, you can be sure to find an explanation of their functions here! On the last page, the “Activiteitenkalender” will keep you updated on upcoming Panacea events and exams.
Then come the education-oriented articles. One very useful column is “VGT-hulp” (“Prof. Progress Test”), where a topic frequently assessed in the Progress Tests is explained. We know how difficult it is to try to remember a subject you covered a year ago, so you can brush up your knowledge and test yourself with practice questions that we include. For those who haven’t learned about the topic yet, it is a chance to answer a few more questions on the Progress Test that you otherwise would not dare touch. Program organizers, educators, and student representatives can explain what they do in the “Onderwijscolumn” (“Education column”). An interview with a specialist in “Liedfe voor het vak” (“Passion for the field”) describes the specifics of the field. Lastly, the “Co-column” gives insights into life as an intern and useful tips on how to survive, while making the most of your time.
Apart from these regular features, several articles cover all sorts of subjects. From personal experiences in medicine to medical history, ethics, and exciting developments, there’s always something you can take away. If you’re looking for lighter material, the articles about life in Groningen and our puzzles and memes will keep you entertained.
Throughout its history, however, the PanEssay has evolved. From the very first glance, one would notice that today’s covers look different from those published a decade ago. Current editions feature a photo related to the holiday or the mood and events of the month of publication. This hasn’t always been the case, however, with older issues having photos that give a preview to the articles, or not having any pictures at all. An even more noticeable difference is that all pictures in the older issues were printed in black and white. When printing in color became more affordable, PanEssay began incorporating more visual elements into its cover and articles. A “Fotopagina”, two pages purely dedicated to pictures of Panacea activities, was added later.
Another visual difference is the PanEssay logo. It has been changed a few times since the original design was created, from the classic and elegant original design to the more modern and colorful design of today. The current issue marks another change as we look to decide upon a new look for PanEssay with your help. We’ve listed the candidates on the last page of the edition, and you can vote for your preference by scanning a QR code. It won’t take much time and your input would be much appreciated!
What’s a faculty magazine if half of the students are unable to read it? Every issue was written 100% in Dutch until 2010, when the English program in Medicine was first introduced at the RUG. This could have been a problem for the newly-arriving international students, but PanEssay quickly included English articles and sought out English-speaking writers. From this point onwards, the PanEssay featured a mix of English and Dutch articles, keeping both internationals and Dutchies happy. Hence, you can read about interesting topics in your preferred language or practice your Dutch in a medical context.
In the same year it first featured English articles, PanEssay made another important decision: to go online. In keeping with the growing access to personal electronic devices and the internet, all issues were also published on the official PanEssay website and on issuu.com/panessay. Taking a step further, an opt-in system for receiving a paper copy was put into place in 2018 to become more environmentally friendly. Today, first years will automatically receive our magazines in their mail, but all other years will have to indicate their preference for a hard copy on our website.
The Unchanging Core
Although it’s clear that the looks and execution of the PanEssay has changed throughout time, its content has largely remained the same. As a magazine created under Panacea, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the voice of the members, board, and committees have always taken center stage in the magazine. A message from the board can be found in the earliest issues, and an activity calendar and committee page have been around for more than a decade. Extensive interviews with educators and organizations go way back, and individuals describing their experiences have always been welcomed.
Similarly, education and career information have always formed integral parts of the PanEssay. Students could always turn to the PanEssay for insightful interviews with specialists and professors, and descriptions about the internships. And to spice things up with a little fun, every issue has included puzzles or memes on the last pages.
I think it would be fair to say that while the magazine has adapted significantly to technological advances and a changing student body, a reader from 25 years ago would still be able to pick up modern issues and identify it as PanEssay. As for the future, I’m curious to see what it has in stock for our magazine, particularly what the effects of reducing the number of English-speaking learning communities to one will be. Additionally, will PanEssay follow the trend of digitization and environmental consciousness to go completely online? And how much danker will the memes get? All interesting questions, and one that a writer 25 years from now will perhaps reflect on.